More than Turkish Coffee: Istanbul’s Coolest Cafes

Istanbul is a city of sacred tradition, and coffee is without a doubt one of them.

You could say cafes are the lifeblood of Istanbul.

Back in the Ottoman Empire, coffeehouses were strictly for men- women drank coffee at home.

Nowadays, these laws aren’t in place. You’ll see men and women mingling in traditional coffeehouses and modern cafes throughout the city.

Coffee shops and cafes in Istanbul bring together all the different faiths, background and cultures of the city.

We loved the social aspect to drinking coffee in Istanbul.

There’s an endless array of cafes with sidewalk seating- where people perch on low chairs, sipping tiny cups of coffee, and chatting with each other.

Over the course of a week we spent in Turkey, we found ourselves stopping frequently to relax with a cup of brew at cafes across the city.

11 Can’t Miss Cafes in Istanbul

Mandabatmaz: Famed for Turkish coffee, a method of preparing coffee that dates back to the 5th century, Mandabatmaz didn’t disappoint.

Turkish coffee is made by mixing coffee grounds with boiling water. Then, coffee is mixed with a sugar cube, before being poured into a tiny cup.

When poured, the grounds settle into the bottom of the cup, creating a sludge. You’re not meant to drink this sludge- I’ve heard tale it can be used to tell your fortune, but otherwise, leave it be.

We tried Turkish coffee at a few places, but Mandabatmaz was our favourite- it was less grainy than other cups we tried. That said, it wasn’t our favourite thing to order- we much preferred Turkish tea for its taste.

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Swedish Point: High speed internet, Scandi chic design, artisanal coffee drinks, and dogs napping everywhere? Talk about a dream cafe.

You won’t find traditional Turkish coffee at Swedish point, but if you’re in the mood for a latte or mocha, or have some work to do while in Istanbul, this is the perfect place to come. And, their selection of cakes means you won’t go hungry while you work.

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Velvet Cafe: Boasting delicious freshly baked simit, a Turkish bread, we dubbed Velvet a good place to start the day if you’re wandering Galat for its doughy treats and piping hot coffee.

Federal Coffee: Aussie style coffee, right in the heart of Galata. We loved Federal so much, we came near daily to try their extensive third-wave coffee menu (so many flavours of lattes and mochas!).

We also thought their brunch menu was good, especially the cheese toasties. Visiting Istanbul in winter, we were in need of refuge from the weather at times. Curling up next to the fire, cushioned by pillows and with a zebra mocha in hand made for the best afternoon break one day.

Dem Karakoy: We’d heard tale the tea menu here was extensive, and decided to drop in on our way back to Galata from Salt. 

Extensive would be an understatement- it’s page after page of tea- every variety imaginable.

Of course, there’s classic Turkish tea, which we chose to sip while plotting our next move in the city.

This is the kind of place I’d come to curl up in a corner, and read a book. When we visited, it was quiet, there were tons of cozy nooks with pillows and blankets available, and if you get tired of tea, they make a mean simit sandwich.

Sirin Firin Cafe & Bakery: Loved by locals and visitors alike for their baked goods, and traditional Turkish breakfast plate.

This trendy cafe near the Galat Tower was one of our favourite meals while in Istanbul. It was here we tried the traditional Turkish breakfast platter for the first time, enjoying the variety of nibbles included.

Order a breakfast platter, steaming apple tea, and watch the cobblestone streets in this part of the city awaken.

Salt Galata: Part art gallery, part trendy restaurant, Salt’s coffee and tea selection makes it worth a visit.

The food menu is ace as well, and the view of the city from the upstairs terrace? Consider it the cherry on top.

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Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi: Calling all coffee connoisseurs, founded in 1871, this stall outside the Egyptian Spice Market is the go to for freshly ground coffee. 

They sell it in all size packets, so even if you don’t have much room in your suitcase, you’ll likely be able to fit one of their tiny pouches.

If there’s a queue, don’t fret- it moves quick.

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Incir Agaci Kahvesi: Follow the vivid rainbow steps to the door of this tiny cafe in Balat. 

Once inside, order a cup of Turkish coffee, sit back and watch local life unfold around you. This spot is a favourite with Turks, who come to catch up with friends over a cuppa.

9Gram Coffee Roasters: Small, but mighty. The lattes here are great. The perfect kind of spot to pop in if you’re on your way to catch a tram into the centre city.

Kronotop: Regarded as the city’s first speciality coffee spot and located next to Swedish Point, this cool cafe turns out good artisan coffee drinks as well. With more of an edgy vibe, it’s a good place to come for an evening cup of coffee before dinner or heading out for the night.

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Have you been to Istanbul? Did you explore or enjoy the city’s cafe culture? 

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2 thoughts on “More than Turkish Coffee: Istanbul’s Coolest Cafes

  1. Oh my, Incir Agaci Kahvesi looks like a dream! I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but I did notice the many cafes while exploring Istanbul. I did stop at a cute, colorful one near Sultanahmet Square for a slice of baklava, though. Even if one doesn’t get coffee, relaxing in a cafe can offer some beautiful views of the city, as people go about their everyday lives. 🙂

    • Totally agree relaxing in a cafe being a great way to observe more about a place you’re visiting/local life- it’s one of my favourite activities on any trip. And, Istanbul is interesting, because I love coffee but wasn’t a huge fan of Turkish Coffee- would gladly trade it for a flat white or cold brew any day. But, still enjoyed trying it and visiting so many lovely cafes- I like it as a way to support local communities as well. Much better than just defaulting to Starbucks or the equivalent.

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